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Volume 16, Number 10a
March 8, 2010
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Top News: Army Intelligence General to Head TSA?back to top 

President Obama's next pick for chairman of the Transportations Security Administration is widely reported to be retired Maj. Gen. Robert Harding, a lifelong intelligence specialist whose bio (PDF) reads like a character in a Robert Ludlum novel. Various sources are reporting Harding, the former second in command of U.S. Army Intelligence and was director of operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency before that, will be nominated Monday. He retired from the Army in 2001 and owned his own security consultant firm specializing in homeland security assignments. Since much of his work, if he's approved by Congress, will center on aviation, AVweb searched the FAA Airmen Registry to see if he's a pilot and what ratings he might have. We found a Robert A. Harding and a Robert Harding, but that's all we found More...

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Latest Tech Gets Safety Vettingback to top 

The NTSB announced Thursday that it will hold a public (and online) meeting March 9 to discuss a study on whether glass cockpits have improved the safety record of small light general aviation aircraft. The meeting will be held Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. ET at the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center, 429 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C., but will also be broadcast and archived online. The study was initiated to track the effects of recent, relatively swift and major changes in cockpit technology. Ten years ago, analog was the standard for new single-engine aircraft avionics, says the Board, but now "almost all new light planes come equipped with digital flight display avionic systems." Those digital systems "enhanced function and information capabilities" and also represent "a significant change and potential improvement" in how GA pilots acquire and monitor the information they need to control their aircraft. Click through for specific links and more details. More...

Business Aviation Will Help Companies Not Only Survive
But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

To be your most productive, and your most efficient, you must keep flying. Because in so doing, you will emerge from these times even stronger than before. And you will replace the uncertainty that surrounds many, with the confidence and courage to light the way for all. Visit
13 Years Is a Long Time ...back to top 

A 41-year-old Swedish man who was about to pilot a Boeing 737 with 101 passengers aboard was arrested this week at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport for falsifying papers that had allowed him to fly for 13 years without valid certification. He had been flying for Corendon Airlines (Turkey) for two years, but said his career had spanned airlines in Belgium, Britain and Italy, and had allowed him to log more than 10,000 flight hours, by using falsified documents. Few details are yet available, but the man was reportedly in place, in the cockpit, and ready to fly the jet from Amsterdam to Ankara, Turkey, when arrested. Authorities say that he reacted by pulling his pilot stripes from his shoulders and expressing relief that he'd at long last been caught. More...

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Kid Controller: The Falloutback to top 

The FAA has banned tower visits, and airline pilots using New York's JFK Airport are showing support for tower controller Glenn Duffy and his supervisors after Duffy allowed his kids to issue instructions over the tower frequency in mid-February. The pilots are signing off their transmissions with "Adios," the salutation Duffy's nine-year-old son delivered in two of his transmissions Feb. 16. His twin sister took the mic a day later. According to the New York Daily News, some are amplifying their discontent with the fate that might await the controllers. "Thoughts going out to your co-worker there," the newspaper reported a Delta pilot departing Kennedy Airport was recorded on LiveATC as saying. "I think it's BS what he's going through." More...

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Looking at Airplanes (And a Couple of Not-Airplanes)back to top 

Two British men who were found with a scanner, laptop, binoculars and cameras, and who admitted to "illegally monitoring aircraft" near Indira Gandhi International Airport, India, have been fined by an Indian court, but were released Friday without jail time. Stephen Hampton, 46, and Steven Ayres, 56, had faced up to 10 years under spying charges, but pled to a lesser offense that could have led to three years in jail. The two were arrested in India, Feb. 15, two days after a bomb blast in the Indian city of Pune initiated a security crackdown in the country. In the UK, authorities have approached plane-spotters differently. In 2004, a UK plan sought to recruit them to report suspicious potentially terrorist-related activities near airports. That program does not exist in India. There the men were arrested for recording the conversation between pilots and air traffic control, which (as performed) was against sections of India's Telegraph Act. The men pled guilty to a breach under the act. More...

After seeing the illusion for themselves, authorities who launched a large-scale search last weekend to find a plane stuck in trees near Darwin Airport, Australia, said witnesses were right to report it. Multiple witnesses who contacted authorities last Sunday just after 6 p.m. local time claimed to have seen the plane through light rain as it sat stuck in mangroves. The "aircraft" is actually the meeting of two roof lines visible from a distance at a particular angle. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding was not resolved before a land-based search effort involved police and an aerial search involved a CareFlight helicopter. In the full light of day, authorities who traveled to the point from which the reports were made said witnesses did the right thing by alerting authorities. "I've actually seen it, myself" Duty Superintendent Mike Murphy told ABC news. "It's remarkable how it looks like a light aircraft pointing out into the ocean." (Images after the jump.) More...

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!back to top 

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to What have you heard? More...


Letter of the Week: "Ultimately Correct"

In his letter, Terry Adams seems to decry a pilot's claim for medical benefits from one Federal Agency while not revealing his medical condition to the FAA, accusing that the pilot "lies" on his FAA paperwork with the result that he endangered others.

Terry Adams is wrong. The FAA had erred in prohibiting the unreported condition and the medications used to treat it, and subsequently reversed themselves and approved both.

While I don't condone the pilot's failure to report, I think the pilot ultimately proved correct. It appears Mr. Adams is disturbed that another pilot was able to save his career from wrong-headed bureaucrats.

George Horn

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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From Sea to Sky, by Way of New Zealandback to top 

Ed. Note:
Due to a technical glitch, we forgot the video when we ran this story last Thursday, and that was kind of the point. Enjoy!

New Zealander (he's half Australian) Rudy Heeman has, over 11 years, transformed his hovercraft into a wing-in-ground-effect vehicle, and now it's for sale. Heeman says he's found the ideal flight altitude under the vehicle's 7-meter wingspan to be about 1.5 meters, over flat water or land, where he reached a top speed of about 60 mph in a test. It will hop small bushes or short trees and, yes, Heeman has hit shrubbery with it (and continued to a safe landing). Theoretically, the pilot plus one vehicle can cruise at about 55 mph for roughly 140 miles. The project includes parts from six different cars, including what was originally a 1.8-liter Subaru engine, and a gas bottle from an old barbeque. Its wings consist of what appear to be a front and rear aluminum tube spar, foam/fiberglass ribs (four per side, plus an end rib) and zip-to-close fitted fabric covering -- all of which separate for storage/transport. The vehicle is controlled by rudder and elevator, actuated by a control wheel (no rudder pedals). The cockpit includes a GPS and engine gauges, but Heeman has included other creative refinements. More...

New Zealander Rudy Heeman has, over 11 years, transformed his hovercraft into a wing-in ground effect vehicle, and now it's for sale. More...

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What Do You Fly?
New on AVwebback to top 

IFR magazine's Jeff Van West shows how a portable GPS can be used to evaluate what altitudes will be safe for flying up valleys (without actually changing altitudes) and how to use the GPS while in those valleys to enhance safety and situational awareness. More...

AVweb speaks with director of the Unmanned Aircraft System Center for Research, Education and Training at the University of North Dakota, Jeff Kappenman, to hear his thoughts on how unmanned vehicles are changing aviation and piloting, right now and in the future. More...

Does military intelligence translate to transportations security? AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles isn't sure, but he speculates on some of the challenges Robert Harding will face as TSA chairman in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog. Read his thoughts and share your own here. More...

Last week's kid controller story kicked off world-class frothing about the sensationalizing mainstream media, probably deserved. But on the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that there's a risk assessment lesson in there that we can all benefit from. Read Paul's thoughts and share your own here. More...

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


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in the Business

AVweb readers continued to travel the length and breadth of North America this week, sending us notes about the best FBOs they discovered along the way. Our latest "FBO of the Week" award goes to Above View at St. George Municipal Airport (SGU) in St. George, Utah.

AVweb reader Jaime Votaw tells us how Above View stepped up to the plate when her husband made an unscheduled stopover:

My husband flew in tonight after needing to land aftet battling weather all day. This was an unexpected stop in a trip to Salt Lake City. I called in at about 8pm and someone answered the phone. It was obviously after hours, and the person who answered offered to run up the airport and get my husband a crew car so he could get to a local hotel. Up until Justin answered the phone, I had no idea what to tell my husnad to do. They are always friendly there, but this was way above and beyond for them to do. Thank you, Above View — you guys are great!

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!


Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversaryback to top 

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 

Win a Garmina aera 510 handheld GPS as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and e-mail address. (You only have to enter once, and you'll be entered in our prize drawings for the entire year — so if you've already entered, you're all set.)

And no, we're not going to rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can qualify for our 15 Grand Giveaways prize drawings, too. (We won't spam them, either — but we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time March 12, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to Rod Anson of Camperdown, Victoria (Australia), who won 100,000 Air BP Bravo Rewards Points! (click here to get your own Rewards Points from Air BP)


The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


Overheard near Sacramento, California, where NorCal approach and departure is training a large number of new controllers:

Cessna 12345:
"NorCal approach, student pilot, Cessna 12345. Heading 024. 1500 feet, climbing to 5500."

NorCal Approach:
"Cessna 54661, student controller. Roger radar contact."

Michael Fedoryk
via e-mail


Names Behind the Newsback to top 


AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West
Mariano Rosales

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.